I have used part of the same introduction for this book, as I did for one of the books about Pixie O'Shaughnessy, not because the books are anything like the same, but because the observations are equally valid.
This is another excellent book by Mrs. de Horne Vaizey, dating from the end of the nineteenth century. While of course it is dated in its references to the world around its actors, yet nevertheless their emotions are well-described, and no doubt are timeless.
Some older children are being educated at a Vicarage near Brighton, along with the vicar's own three. Peggy Saville is a "new girl", having previously lived in India, where her parents still are. She has great talent in some directions, but still has to add up by counting on her fingers! She certainly gets up to some tricks, though.
There is a fire at a dance given by the titled family of one of the pupils, from which Peggy rescues the daughter of the house. Both girls are injured, Peggy the more severely, but eventually they are both on the way to recovery.
In some ways the world around the people in the book is recognisable today, in a way which a book written thirty or forty years before would not have been. They have electricity, telephones, trains, buses, and many other things that we still use regularly today. Of course one major difference is that few people today have servants, while middle-class and upper-class families of the eighteen nineties would certainly have had them.
So it is not so very dated after all. But I do think there is a real value in reading the book. Oddly enough, I think that a boy would benefit from reading any of the author's books, more than a girl would, because it would give him an insight into the girlish mind which he could not so easily otherwise obtain.
Jessie Bell, later Mrs. Henry Mansergh, and then Mrs. George de Horne Vaizey, was born in Liverpool, in 1857, into a family of seven children--she had four brothers and two sisters. In 1883, she married Henry Mansergh. Their only daughter, Gwyneth Alice, was born in 1886. The Manserghs moved several times, but always remained in the vicinity of Liverpool. Henry Mansergh seems to have been either an alcoholic or addicted to drugs. In either case, he died of kidney disease in May, 1894.
At about the time of her first husband's death, her short stories began to appear in magazines in 1894. Her daughter, Gwyneth, then about twelve, found an unpublished manuscript of her mother's in a drawer and sent it in to a short story competition. Jessie won the contest, whose prize was a Mediterranean cruise. Jessie met George de Horne Vaizey on that cruise. She married him in 1898 and they moved to Broxbourne in Hertfordshire. Their son, George de Horne Vaizey the younger, who was later to become a writer himself, was born in 1900.
Early in the century, she contracted typhoid, and then developed rheumatoid arthritis. The latter condition left her permanently crippled, in a wheelchair, for the rest of her life. In spite of her affliction, she continued to write. She died in Hampstead after an operation for appendicitis.
Jessie wrote thirty-three books, and many short stories and magazine articles. She often used her own varied experiences in her books. She used situations from her early life in a large family, her first husband's addiction and death, and her own illnesses in her novels.
A PDF of scans and an HTML version of this book are provided. We also provide a plain TEXT version and full instructions for using this to make your own audiobook. To find these click on the PDF, HTML or TXT links on the left.
These transcriptions of books by various nineteenth century authors of instructive books for teenagers, were made during the period 1997 to the present day by Athelstane e-Books. Most of the books are concerned with the sea, but in any case all will give a good idea of life in the nineteenth century, and sometimes earlier than that. This of course includes attitudes prevalent at the time, but frowned upon nowadays.
We used a Plustek OpticBook 3600 scanner to scan the pages. We then made a pdf which we used to assist with editing the OCRed text.
To make a text version we ABBYY Finereader 8 to produce a first draft of the text, and Athelstane software to find misreads and improve the text. We proof-read the chapters, and then made a CD with the book read aloud by either Fonix ISpeak or TextAloud MP3. The last step enables us to hear and correct most of the errors that may have been missed by the other steps, as well as entertaining us during the work of transcription.
The resulting text can be read either here at the Internet Archive or at www.athelstane.co.uk